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Restaurants / Closings

Houston’s Night Owl Hangout is Shuttering, With Neighborhood Favorite Giving Way for Trendier New Bar

The Owl Bar's No Frills Approach Brought Plenty of Fans

BY // 08.23.19

It’s time to say good night to Houston’s favorite night owl. No-frills neighborhood joint The Owl Bar is set to shutter next Thursday, leaving behind a close community — and an opening for an all-new restaurant and bar at 2221 West Alabama.

Owl Bar brought a casual spot, laid-back and relaxed, with an eclectic interior — think a brick arch, towering ceilings, an L-shaped bar and a surprising black-and-white checkerboard floor — and an expansive patio that felt cool and private even against the hustle and bustle of West Alabama.

“It’s been an incredible run, but it is with a heavy heart we announce that The Owl Bar will be officially folding up its wings at the end of this month,” Owl Bar’s Facebook post on the closure begins.

The post includes a slide deck of pics taken at the bar, starting with an image of a beloved Winnie the Pooh quote: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

In an era of gastropubs brimming with craft beers and cocktails, Owl Bar shines with its simple, straightforward approach.

“We were a neighborhood bar, a home away from home. A place to watch the game, to get together with some friends. Friendly bartenders, good service, good drinks — that’s kind of the formula,” co-owner Russell Schulze tells PaperCity.

Good drinks means reliable classics. “We sold lots of vodka,” Schulze laughs. “Vodka and then bottled beer. We’ve been kind of an old school bar — Miller Lite, Bud Lite, Lone Star. We sold a lot of those. And then just your basic vodka sodas, Moscow Mules, martinis. Just a traditional bar, nothing crazy.”

You could count on a special every day of the week at Owl Bar as well. Mondays let you get any drink that starts with an “M” for $5; Tuesdays it’s $3 Love Street and $5 drafts; Wednesdays it’s $4 for any whiskey; Thursdays it’s Steak and Wine Night, plus $4 for any wine and $5 Stoli vodkas; Fridays it’s $5 shots of the bartender’s choice; then Saturdays and Sundays are an embarrassment of riches —  $3 domestics, $15 buckets, $5 Deep Eddy, Jameson and Bloody Marys, and finally $10 mimosa carafes.

It all makes for a low-pressure night and a vibrant-but-chill ambience. There was giant Jenga and oversized Connect Four on the softly lit patio, perfect on breezy nights, your pup curled up under your feet.

Bollo Pizza across the street even delivered piping hot, cheesy slices to the bar.

Inside, live music took over on Wednesdays, and DJs spun 1990s and hip hop smashes, with drinkers dancing where there isn’t really even a dance floor.

And of course, the games. Fans of all teams gather at Owl Bar to revel in the action.

“The World Series — I was there when we won. It was definitely one of my top nights there, it was a lot of fun,” Schulze chuckles.

Owl Bar’s Grand Goodbye

The Owl Bar owners plan to go out big, with their grand finale next Thursday. “We’re gonna blow it out,” Schulze laughs.

The “Owl Hoot Scoot” will draw in all the regulars, some of whom met their wives or husbands there — and likely inspire some first-yet-last timers. A Grateful Dead cover band Up on a Quasar will be rocking and DJ Steve will be jamming out late into the night.

“They’ve been part of the life of this place. We’re going to have a good time,” Schulze says. “We’ve been busy since we announced it, and we think it’ll build up to then like a crescendo.”

Schulze believes the community will last, with the relationships built at Owl Bar continuing. “That’s kind of our legacy, those aren’t just going to go away because we closed,” he notes.

This bar maven is bouncing some ideas around for a new concept himself — nothing specific, but never say never — but it won’t be in the old Owl Bar space.

“A local group bought it. They’re planning to put another bar and restaurant in, do a new concept there,” Schulze says.

Those are the only details Schulze can share for now. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Owl Bar, you’ve been a hoot.

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